Tag Archive: honey



Linear B tablet KN 702 M b 11, “to all the gods” by Rita Roberts

Knossos tablet KN 702 M b 11

This is one of the most significant of all Linear B tablets, as it refers “to all the gods” . But who are all of these gods in Mycenaean Greek? Beneath the translation all of the Mycenaean gods are listed. We notice that whereas many of them survived into archaic and classical Greek (those tagged with an asterisk * after them), some did not. They simply disappeared after the fall of Mycenae ca. 1200 BCE. However, this does not mean that most of them were not (highly) significant to the Mycenaeans. We cite in particular Potnia or Potnia Theron = Mistress (of the Wild Beasts), Emaha2 (Emahai), Manassa, Presphaion, Qerasiya (Kerasiya) and Tiriseroe.


Partial conjectural decipherment of Linear A tablet HT 6 Haghia Triada (VERSO):

Haghia Triada Linear A tablet HT6 VERSO

If there is any Linear A tablet which has proven a real headache, it has to be this one. The surface of the VERSO of HT 6 (Haghia Triada) is so badly damaged that experts such as Andras Zeke of the Minoan Language Blog and Prof. John G. Younger cannot even agree on a few syllabograms in the text, while I myself disagree with them on some of the same. Additionally, there is no consensus on the values of Linear A fractions. Interpretations by Andras Zeke and Prof. John G. Younger of the smaller fractional values often do not agree. So I am unwilling to add fuel to the fire. I simply choose whichever value (either that of Zeke or of Younger) seems more convincing to me. At any rate, no one today can determine with any degree of accuracy numeric values in Minoan Linear or Mycenaean Linear B, since both syllabaries are so historically remote as to preclude any convincing readings.

As for the syllabograms on this tablet, once again, Andras Zeke and John G. Younger do not agree on the values of at least 3 of them. And I find myself at odds with their own interpretations. This is the result of the shoddy scribal hand and the less than ideal condition of the tablet itself. As for maridi, I find myself obliged to read it as if it were meridi, since the interpretation wool (mari) is utterly out of the question in the context of this tablet, whereas reading it as meridi = “honey” makes much more sense contextually. As for sama, it may be the Minoan equivalent of Mycenaean Linear B samara = mound/hill”, but once again, this interpretation is conjectural. I have previously tentatively deciphered Old Minoan (OM) pa3nina (painina) as “an amphora for the storage of… ”, but here again, I have gone out on a limb. Nevertheless, the interpretation once again suits the context. Once all of fig and pomegranate juice (RECTO) and the drops of wine and honey (VERSO) are accounted for, we can see that this tablet may deal with a recipe for a sweet alcoholic beverage, which with these ingredients would indeed be delicious.

Consequently, any convincing decipherment of the VERSO of HT 6 is beyond our reach. We simply have to muddle through it and come up with the best alternatives we can for each apparently decipherable word. However, by fully taking into account the much more accessible text on the RECTO of HT 6, I believe I have been able to rescue a small portion of the significance of the text on the VERSO by placing it in its proper context with the RECTO. See the previous post for my fuller decipherment of the RECTO.


Linear A tablets Zakros ZA 11 & ZA 15 with wine adding up to  same amounts (twice!) on both tablets:

Zakros Linear A tablets ZA 11 and ZA 15

Linear A tablets Zakros ZA 11 & ZA 15 apparently reference two different types of wine adding up to the exact same amounts on both tablets. On ZA 11 we have kana and on ZA 15 kadi. But the passingly strange thing about these two tablets is that the totals for kana on ZA 11 & kadi on ZA 15 are exactly the same (3). Not only that, the grand total for all of the items mentioned on both of these tablets also adds up to the exact same amount (78)! This in spite of the fact that ZA 11 is loaded with text, whereas ZA 15 contains no text whatsoever apart from the name of the wine = kadi, and its total = 3 + the grand total, kuro = 78.

Upon re-examination of Zakros ZA 11, I also just happened to notice that the first word apparently denoting a type of wine, kunasa (RECTO), which I previously defined as possibly meaning “honey wine” has to its immediate left the logogram for “gold” (at least that is what it means in Linear B, so I have little doubt that it cannot mean anything else in Linear A). Now since honey wine is obviously gold in colour, this additional bit of information tends to confirm, albeit not very strongly, that kunasa does mean “honey wine”.

But this still leaves us frustrated with dilemma, why are there two different words for what appear to be wine types on ZA 11 & ZA 15? This one stumped me for a very long time. No matter how I wracked my brains, I could not extricate myself from the apparent impossibility that two different words existed for the same type of wine, which would very likely have to be a fine quality wine, given that there are only 3 of each type, or alternatively that each word referenced a different type of fine wine.. But as it turns out, I was entirely on the wrong track. Notice that kana and kadi both begin with the same syllabogram, KA. Now this is truly odd, if the two words both designate a kind of fine wine. In Mycenaean Linear B, no such distinctions are ever made. So I simply could not accept this interpretation.

What alternatives was I left with? Finally, the solution hit me right between the eyes. It would appear that kana refers to the first item in a list, and kadi to the next in a series. So these are the meanings I have assigned to each in turn: kana = first (in a series) and kadi = next. It is highly unlikely that kana = first and kadi = second,  because in almost all languages the numbers 1 & 2 are distinctly different. So I assume that the same scenario obtains with Minoan Linear A. 


Linear A tablet Zakros ZA 11, kana = Linear B meri = honey + wine = honey wine? no. 28:

Linear A tablet Zakros ZA 11 kana or kunasa  honey wine

Linear A tablet Zakros ZA 11 original and facsimile

By cross-correlating Linear A tablet Zakros ZA 11, I have intuited that the word kana on the VERSO may possibly mean “honey”, and since it is followed by the ideogram for “wine”, which is precisely the same formula we find on Linear B tablet Pylos TA Un 718 L for “honey wine” (See Zakros ZA 11 above for the comparison), I believe I may be onto something here. But there is a bit of a problem.  The word, ?kunasa appears on the RECTO, also immediately followed by the ideogram for “wine”. This throws a wrench into the decipherment. However, I am more inclined to the former word, kana, because it is followed by a tabulation of the number of amphorae? of  (honey?) wine = 3.  The word ?kunasa on the RECTO may itself in fact mean “wine”... or vice versa. How confusing! Take your choice!

Following Linear A tablet Zakros ZA 11 is the Mycenaean Linear B fragment KN 718, which clearly illustrates that a female slave (doera) is bringing honey (meri) to be poured into an amphora to her mistress. 

Linear B tablet KN 718 M a 01 honey wine

What with our reaching Minoan word no. 28, we have almost doubled our Linear A vocabulary from 16 a week ago.


							

How to Insert Logograms and Ideograms into Linear B Text

Insertion of Logograms:

Now that we have learned how to type Linear B in a document, the only thing left for us to do is to insert logograms and ideograms as required into our text.

In Linear B, a logogram is either
(a) a homophone such as rai, which also means “saffron”
-or-
(b) a combination of two or three syllabograms, one on top of the other, which combine to form the word which they represent. Linear B scribes often resorted to this short-cut in order to save precious space on the tiny tablets they inscribed. 

The procedure for each of these two different types of logograms is not the same.

For (a), it is simple. Since the logogram, such as rai for “saffron”  is already a homophone, it is on the Linear B keyboard. So you just type it, as we see here:

(First switch from your default font to Linear B as per the instructions in the last post): Click to ENLARGE both examples

Linear B apudosi rai delivery of saffron

Linear B arepa mare ointment wool
NOTES:
(1) right after you insert the logogram, you must then select Wrap – Wrap Through, otherwise the logogram will appear above or below the preceding word in Linear B, but not beside. In other words, the logogram must be anchored to the paragraph in which the Linear B word is found, or if there is no paragraph, immediately to the right of the Linear B word.
(2) You can easily see that the logogram for “ointment” is actually the Linear B word for ointment.
 
In the sentence, The Queen has wool, the logogram = the syllabogram MA with RE underneath = mare = wool. Note that the logogram is not spelled the same as the word for -wool = mari. For the logogram for honey = meri, see below.

Insertion of Ideograms:

The procedure for the insertion of ideograms is identical to method (b) above for logograms such as arepa, mari (above) & meri (below) for ointment, wool & honey respectively.

1 Insert (from the Insert Menu) - Picture – From File, as illustrated here in the introductory text to Pylos Tablet Py 641-1952 (Ventris): Click to ENLARGE

Linear B honey tiripode

NOTE:
Right after you insert the ideogram, you must then select Wrap – Wrap Through, otherwise the ideogram will appear above or below the preceding word in Linear B, but not beside it. In other words, the ideogram must be anchored to the paragraph in which the Linear B word is found, or if there is no paragraph, immediately to the right of the Linear B word.

Richard

The Newly Unearthed Minoan Winnie the Pooh Tablet (from Knossos? I wish it weren’t) Click to BLOW UP TO ELEPHANT SIZE if you dare!:

KN 00 PO meri 00

I really don’t want to say anything more about this astonishing tablet, except to say that I can’t believe Rita and I found it last Hallowe’en while all the other archaeologists in Herakleion were either out trick or treating with their better halves, or sitting morosely in Greek bars sipping, of all the disgusting things, Retsina! Rita pleaded and begged and pleaded again for me to re-bury it, but I would have nothing of it, informing her in no uncertain terms that this was the Linear B find of the century, if not the entire millennium, given that it is so incredibly unlike any other Linear B tablet she and I have ever, ever, ever seen... let alone anyone else. How it came to be is anyone’s guess, though I do believe that the scribe’s signature, WIPO, is a dead giveaway. Plus, although he had no brains, Minoan Winnie the Pooh was a clever little bugger, riding into the city market, no less, on an ELEPHANT, no less, just to make sure everyone (especially the already burnt-out scribes!) got the hell out of their way... or else... or else what I cringe to imagine. And although our “scribe’s” scratches and scrawls are almost illegible, even for Linear B, which is almost illegible most of the time anyway, only this time round far worse, the text is utterly charming in the extreme, once you can figure out how to decipher it.

I wonder how many elephants he has. I wonder whether or not he shares (at least one pot of) honey with his elephants. I suspect he has to, unless he also wants to get squashed underfoot. I wonder why the scribes just don’t give up, toss in the towel (though there probably no towels as such in ancient Knossos), and run off in all directions screaming like maniacs (which is what they would have been by this time!). I wonder why Rita and I ever decided to keep this silly tablet, except that maybe, just maybe, we want to set the entire Linear B research community, and especially Linear B translators, on their heads, aghast at this new, entirely unexpected and entirely earth-shattering tablet... earth-shattering, not because there was another one of those nasty earthquakes at Knossos when it was composed, but because elephants really do shatter the earth when they come stomping by or, worse yet, stomping into the scribes’ HQ.

This is of course the primary reason why so many Linear B tablets were never unearthed by Sir Arthur Evans in the first place, since the poor bloke was entirely oblivious of the Elephantine Factor (see shattering above). It is almost certainly a historical given that Minoan Winnie the Pooh ordered his pet elephants to destroy as many tablets as they could on any subject but honey pots and honey amphorae, except that the stupid elephants got it all the wrong way around, and destroyed thousands upon thousands of honey-pot and honey amphorae tablets, upon which the entire Minoan economy depended for its survival. When I rummaged through 3,000 + tablets from Knossos, I could find only 7 or 8 honey-pot tablets (and fragments, of course, given those elephant feet!), a horrific loss to posterity, especially to all those honey-sweet Pooh Bears who have lived on this lovely earth of ours since then, Winnie Ille Pooh, the Roman Pooh, Winnie Lou Pou, the Provençal Pou, and so on and so forth, all the way up to Winnie the Pooh today. 

What a terrible loss indeed! Small wonder that the Minoan economy collapsed in a heap of rubble! Those meany ole’ scribes just didn’t get it! Their entire economy was stuck on honey. No honey, no economy. Poof, no Knossos!

Richard 

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